Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Online Shopping and the Environment

In an effort to save the environment, many people resort to online shopping for their retail needs. Online shopping is beneficial for the environment in many ways. One example is how it saves gas and lessens pollution from motor vehicles. Although the amount of gas you use roundtrip to drive to the store is less than what a delivery truck uses to bring you the item you purchase, the delivery truck is also using that same amount of gas to bring packages to many other people. Online shopping is more environmentally friendly than in-store shopping because the gas required for one hundred people to drive to the store and back is far greater than the amount of gas that a delivery truck will use to bring those packages to the homes of those one hundred consumers. Additionally, the energy that is put into running a store is lessened when those purchases are made online. There’s no electricity or gas bill for online shopping.

Contrary to popular belief, online shopping can actually be detrimental to the environment when compared to in-store shopping under certain circumstances. For example, purchases that come in the mail have far more packaging than in-store purchases do because of the boxes and such they use to deliver the purchases in. Additionally, you can’t buy locally over the internet; that has to be done at your local store. Buying locally definitely helps the environment by saving in gas for transportation of goods. Lastly, if you are a consumer who uses public transportation, bikes, walks, or uses any other mode of green transportation, going to the store has less of an impact of the environment than online shopping because you use little or no gas in the venture.

In the end, the effect of online shopping on the environment compared to in-store shopping depends on the consumer’s habits. If you drive a long distance to the store and you don’t tend to buy locally, then online shopping is the way to go to help the environment. Contrastingly, if you live near the store, use public transportation, and/or buy locally, then in-store shopping is better for the environment.

*I used an article on treehugger.com to aid in my discussion of this topic.

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